Dear Annie: I am a 35-year-old man. Years ago, my mother developed a bad habit. Whenever I was in the passenger side of the car, if she stopped short, she would put her arm against my chest to prevent me from going through the windshield. This infuriated me. I’m already wearing a seatbelt, and there is no way a woman her size could protect me. Every time she did this, I would yell, “Keep your hands on the wheel!” Eventually, she stopped.
My mother has always looked for ways to control me. She complains about every problem under the sun, and when I offer a workable solution, she says, “Well, some people can’t afford to do those things,” and we end up arguing. Her arguments are always stupid, and she’ll flip sides to make me look like the aggressor. It’s very manipulative and makes me furious.
In the past two years, I’ve avoided seeing or speaking to my parents. Recently, Mom asked me to see my grandmother.
Against my better judgment, I went with her, and out of the blue, she did that thing again, putting her arm across my chest when she stopped suddenly.
I told her to pull over. She said, “I’m sorry, but I get nervous.” I said, “Then I don’t think I can trust you to drive” and walked home. I don’t know anyone else who does this. It’s not normal. I suspect my mother wants to feel like the boss of the situation. What do you say?
Dear N.Y.: Every parent we know does this. You interpret it as controlling and manipulative, but it is done out of an instinctive impulse to protect someone they love. Try to recognize that your feelings could indicate a skewed perspective about Mom’s motives and may be coloring your entire relationship. The two of you don’t seem to communicate in the same language.
Please explore this with a professional counselor and work on ways to relate in a healthier and more productive manner. And ask your mother to go, too. We suspect she could benefit, as well.
Dear Annie: I recently broke up with a 70-year-old man who could not stop ogling women and making sexually inappropriate remarks to them. I talked to him about it many times and clearly stated that this is emotional cheating and he should stop or we’d be finished. He didn’t change, and it escalated to ogling strangers on elevators and women at parties. It was creepy. I was humiliated and embarrassed.
After I broke up with him, I found out that he made sexually inappropriate remarks to some very young girls, saying he wanted to see them naked. I suggested therapy. He said all men do this and told me to relax.
A friend of mine says he is a sexual predator and probably a sex addict. He always reads your column. Maybe you can shed some light. Is it a mental deficit or emotional cheating?
-- Wondering in Canada
Dear Canada: Both. If this inappropriate behavior began within the past few years, it could be an indication of early dementia. Suggest he see his doctor. However, if he has always been like this, it is not only emotional cheating, but also worrisome. When you say “very young girls,” how young? If you believe he is preying on underage girls, please report him to the authorities.
Dear Annie: “Leave Us Alone” should tell her relatives they don’t want to start a family they can’t fully support. They should say they have set up two funds — one to pay off their college loans and one for future children. When their loans are paid off and the one for future children is completely funded, they will consider trying. Then ask the nosy family member how much they are willing to contribute.
-- Some Humor in Dallas
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